Natural Bug Repellent 

In a group I help run I posted about a natural bug (and arachnid) repellent I was making for our porch and patio today. It was essentially half my essential oils and a stick of cinnamon I soaked in a half and half vinegar/water mix. There are many different oils and herbs one could procure to help ward off a variety of bugs without chemicals. 

Some of these include:

*Lavender

*Citronella

*Lemongrass

*Tea Tree

*Eucalyptus

*Mint (any kind)

*Marigold

*Geranium

*Cedarwood

*Rosemary

*Citrus – Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, etc. 

*Cinnamon

*etc. 

I usually do a mix of what I have on hand to ward off different types of bugs but if you have a specific pest you can easily find specific herb/s for them.

After I have made my repellent I either add a cup to a gallon of water and wash the porch with it or I put it in a spray bottle and spray around door and window frames, etc. I would avoid getting this near your plants. If you have children or animals I would spray where they can’t lick or touch it and/or use only safe ingredients that won’t harm them if accidentally consumed.

If I’m making something for the skin I use half witch hazel instead of vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. Be careful not to spray too close to clothing as it can stain. Spraying on shoes or socks before a hike is helpful. 

Alternatively, you can add a 2% dilution of these oils to body lotion and do a rest patch to make sure you are not allergic. Please look into the properties of the oils before attempting this. I am just giving suggestions as a place to start researching. 

Here is a basic bug repellent I used to make: 
Witch Hazel soaked in fresh Geranium and Marigold (then strained!), Spring Water, Essential Oils of Lavender, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Citronella. 

I don’t have the exact amounts as I do things as I go without recipes half the time. I would still make a 2% dilution of the oils. The herbs should be soaked 1-2 weeks. Dried works as well. 

I hope this proves helpful in the warm months ahead! 

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Cheesy Potato Bread Rolls

I love potatoes. When people say “bread is life” I think: “right after potatoes.” When combining the two I feel as if I am creating pure joy. In this blog post I’m sharing one of my versions of potato bread but I’m making it into rolls then adding a bit of cheese to the mix. Because cheese too is life. Unless you’re lactose intolerant and also gluten intolerant. Then maybe not.

I was very surprised I had not posted a blog about potato bread yet as I make it fairly often. Growing up one of my favorite sandwich breads from the regular grocery store was (is) potato. Homemade potato bread isn’t quite the same unless perhaps you are using potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes) or spend time breaking down potatoes into a thin liquidy purée. Even then the texture is different. I like my potato bread with some small clumps because I am a fan of the feeling. 

You can easily double this recipe but I use this as is generally due to my husband being gone frequently. So my toddler and I gobble these up over a few days span (sometimes). 

You will need:

*4 1/2-5 cups flour (1/2 cup for kneading)

*1 1/2 cups shredded cheese 

*1 cup warm milk (I used cashew in these pictures as it’s what I had)

*1/2 cup mashed up potatoes (I use red for the sweetness)

*1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup)

*2 tablespoons sugar

*2 teaspoons salt

*1 tablespoon dry active yeast

*1 egg 

I like to boil or bake potatoes for meals but generally make extra for other meals or bread. Here I had three small boiled red potatoes in my fridge. Mashed up they made half a cup. The picture shows more but I just had not smashed them into the cup fully. I mash what I have first to see if I should double the recipe or not. It depends on the amount of potatoes I have made generally. You can also use leftover prepared mashed potatoes. 

Add the yeast, sugar and milk together. Stir well and then let sit for 5 minutes. 



Add the butter, egg, half a cup (at least but hey…go crazy) of shredded cheese of your choice and salt. I also added a pinch of dill, a pinch of turmeric and a teaspoon of nutritional yeast. You definitely don’t need to add these but I like it. You could add other herbs and spices for a more complex flavor to the bread if you would like however! Rosemary is also great.

Mix by hand with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment of a mixer.

When fully mixed add half a cup of flour at a time up to 4 cups. 

Remove the paddle attachment (use a spoon to pull any dough off) and add the dough hook if you are using a mixer. Add another half cup regardless of hand mixing or using a mechanical mixer. 

After mixing if the dough still looks sticky you can add up to another half cup. 

When fully mixed by the mixer I still like to knead by hand. It gives me a better idea of the texture of the bread and what it may need. Use up to half a cup of flour for this. The weather, temperature in your kitchen, etc can all effect the dough. 

Place into a greased bowl and cover. Let sit 1-2 hours. Some recipes suggest placing it in the fridge for 24 hours then letting it come to room temperature and rise. I’m too impatient for this. Though I have tried it before and it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference. Do what feels right to you! Experiment! 

When the dough has risen pull apart into desired sizes. I generally don’t pay attention to numbers and just pull apart to size. Be aware they will puff up so make them a bit smaller than you would like. 

Use both hands to pinch and tuck the dough into itself to form the rolls. You can alternately just roll them into balls.


I stuffed some with extra cheese because why not?

The best way to make these rolls is to put them in a glass dish like this. Grease and add rolls with room to spare.

I also put some on our ugly old cookie sheet to show the difference in baking coming up…

Let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Brush with oil or butter if desired then bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove and add cheese! Then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 


With the glass dish you are able to add much more cheese. The pieces are closer together and the sides keep cheese in.

With a cookie sheet a lot of cheese falls off so you both need to add less and also watch for burning. You can stick the rolls closer together but some may still miss out.

This is what happens with the cookie sheet. Some bits were too cooked and I had to crumble them off. The upside is you’re not pulling rolls apart and leaving softness exposed.

Here they are with the glass. They are much more moist!

Let cool for 5-10 minutes or so before serving. You don’t want to burn your mouth with hot cheese! With the glass you let let the rolls sit in the container before removing. With the cookie sheet use a spatula to remove right away and set on a cooling rack. 

Enjoy! 

Ostara 2017 

It’s the night of the Spring Equinox as I write this. I’m tired (in a good way) from a long and relaxed day…even though I was working in the kitchen for half of it! Yesterday, my family tidied up the porch and planted another round of seeds we had in our fridge that were getting prepped to plant. We also repotted a few babies and took note of other plants that needed new homes soon. 

Today, my husband had to work in the morning so I spent the first part of the day alone with the kids. We ate a home cooked breakfast (as usual) and then took turns taking baths and showers so we’d all be clean and fresh for the day. I even got to do a face mask while washing the kids. By the time we were done my love arrived home! For lunch I made buttery seasoned Brussel sprouts roasted with pine nuts (I usually use almonds but wanted to switch it up) and topped with a egg. Keeping with the general Ostara food themes of potentially using seeds, nuts, greens, edible flowers and eggs for the day.

I also baked pretzel rolls despite having made regular pretzels yesterday. My husband loves these and always asks me to make them.

I topped half with sesame seeds. Yum! I love sesame seeds!

I even pickled some veggies! Someone likes the liquid so…

I had other treats I wanted to make but not enough mouths to eat everything I planned. Maybe next year! This year was more than enough for my family and for offerings. 

I even tidied the kitchen altar a bit for the day. It’s very simple due to the little grabby hands in the house. 

We played outside after I was done baking. My toddler Dagmar immediately jumped into this massive puddle. What else did I expect? 

Mina seemed to enjoy the light sprinkles of water that the breeze blew from the trees. Haha! (Not our car btw)

After ANOTHER bath for the toddler I took the baby upstairs to read while the other two napped on the couch. I rarely get uninterrupted time to read so this was very exciting for me. Then this cutie decided to giggle and smile the whole time which of course I couldn’t ignore! Aw! 

All in all it was a good and simple celebration. Nothing fancy and all done using things we had. You don’t need to break the bank or go all out to celebrate the change of the seasons! Recognition and time spent with loved ones or on some self care is all you need!

Homemade Bounty Bars Recipe

Most of the time when I feel like making something in the kitchen I want to make it immediately. So I go in and rummage through cabinets and the fridge to see what ingredients I have and start from there. I wanted to make something that didn’t require too much energy so I decided on a chocolate treat with minimal work involved. I decided to make Bounty bars. For those of us in the states it is like a Mounds bar. A Bounty bar is typically found in the UK and Canada but can be found in specialty shops, etc internationally. I am lucky enough to have had them and was happy to make some at home. I also didn’t have the corn syrup and marshmallows needed to create the base for Mounds or an Almond Joy so I kinda had to go this route. 

You will need:

*7 oz bag of coconut flakes

*14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

*2 cups chocolate (I used chocolate chips but you can buy chocolate specifically made for candy)
You’ll also need wax paper and either a double broiler or a microwave for the chocolate. 
Optional: extracts for the coconut blend and sea or kosher salt for the chocolate to enhance the flavor. Though these are not used typically. 

Mix the condensed milk and coconut together. Use 1/4 cup less condensed milk for not so “milky” bars if you prefer that. 


I added 1/2 a teaspoon of almond extract but coconut or vanilla work too. They are not needed or required however. I added it for my personal tastes. 

Form into bars with your hands and set on wax paper. Freeze for 30-60 minutes. I put mine in the freezer then cleaned the house a bit. Leaving them longer doesn’t hurt them. 

Melt chocolate! Either in a microwave with a microwave safe bowl or in a double boiler. I didn’t temper mine as I had a toddler helping and forgot. You can temper yours by melting in increments before adding more chocolate and then setting the bowl or pan in cold water. Seeing as I don’t have pictures of this I would refer to a YouTube video for help if you need it. If you don’t temper it you will run into the issue of it cooling fast and making not so pretty bars. 


I used two forks to toss the bar around. Use whatever you have handy. Spoons, chopsticks, etc. I had also added raw almonds for a crunch in some pieces as you can see here.

Set to cool. Wax paper would have been best but you may get a pooling of chocolate so I went this route of using a greased cooking rack. 

Let the chocolate set for a few hours then enjoy! 

Steel Cut Oat and Honey Bread

If you have read some of my older blogs you would know we like to buy in bulk and store food in glass jars. My husband bought me the “Outlander Kitchen” (http://outlanderkitchen.com) book last year and with it a ton of oats. Then he went to sea and I had no one to cook and bake for. I was pregnant and had no appetite most of the time and even though my family loves my food I felt insecure in giving it away to others with different tastes. So I didn’t use much. I had my baby at the start of the year and decided to finally start using it up. Here is one recipe I wanted to share (not from “Outlander Kitchen” just FYI)! Steel Cut Oat and Honey bread! It’s a bit crumbly but delicious! You can easily add to it as well. Add in raisins, chocolate chips, spices such as cinnamon, etc. You can top it with a glaze, honey butter, chocolate drizzle, etc as well. I made mine “plain” to show you a good starting point. It doesn’t taste plain at all though! You can easily use this blend in muffin tins as well for individual treats. 

You will need: 

*2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

*1 cup steel cut oats (I used quick cook but both work)

*1 cup boiling water 

*1 egg

*2/3 cup milk (I used cashew)

*1/4 cup honey (at least!) 

*3 tsp baking powder

*1 tsp salt 

*1/2 stick butter (or 4 tablespoons oil of choice)

*butter, cooking spray or whatever you prefer to grease your bread pan

Take oats and add boiling water to them in a heat proof bowl. 



Let sit for an hour for quick cook or two hours for regular steel cut. 

Start to preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as the next steps will go quickly. 

Melt butter and honey on low while stirring continuously. I used a whisk (my tiny one ran off with my toddler).

When the honey and butter are fully melted and combined add the mixture to the oats and blend together. 

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients fully.

Add milk to the oat blend before dropping in the egg. Mix well. 


Add the wet and dry ingredients together.

Here I used my Kitchen Aide as my kid likes to watch it work) but you can mix with a spoon. Mix until just fully blended. Do not overwork it. 

Grease bread pan and pour in mixture. 

Shake gently and then slap against the counter to even out the dough and have it fill in any gaps. 

Bake for an hour on the center shelf. Some ovens may require a little more time. Use a knife to check to make sure the dough is baked through. 

Immediately take out of the pan to cool. You can top it now if you wish or don’t top it at all. I used salted butter as it brings out the flavor. 

Let cool fully then slice and enjoy! 

Checking In – Life Update

Though I have decently kept up the Instagram and Facebook page for “The Heathen Homesteader” I have completely neglected the (this) blog (and the accompanying Twitter and Tumblr. Oops.). I got pregnant with my second child last year and my brain power and energy went down the drain. I thought that once I had the baby I could get back to work but now I’m even more tired. Parenthood is no joke! It’s difficult but worth it. 

I wanted to take a moment to check in however. To let you all know I am still here and don’t plan on abandoning this project of mine. I just need time.

Also, meet Wilhelmina “Mina” Johanna! She was born on January 3rd and weighed 10lbs 14oz. 

She’s about 16lbs now at a little over 2 months old. 

Her big sister Dagmar absolutely adores her and smothers her with love. 

So you can see I have my hands full! Literally. 

Working on a recipe today for an oat bread and I hope to be able to share it as soon as I can. Thank you all for your continued interest in my work and your support. 

A Year Of Crochet 

In November I celebrated one full year of learning crochet. It was an on and off journey as I had other crafts I enjoy that I would spend long periods of time on instead. With the holidays coming up and a husband that was at sea I decided several months ago to focus almost solely on crochet. It was the craft I know most people I was going to give gifts to would enjoy. I also snuck in quite a few things for my toddler and baby that is on the way. The more I made the more I learned. I progressed and learned more about crochet in the last month than I have learned the rest of the time I have been learning. I can now read patterns a bit better and am more confident in my abilities as well as what I know I can tackle. 

Here are some of the things I have made recently:

I can’t wait to continue this journey and expand my knowledge and experience. I’m hoping with two little ones I’ll have plenty of projects year round to work on for them and others. Mamamade goods they can give their own kids should they choose to have any. 

To see more pictures and updates find me on: 

Instagram: theheathenhomesteader

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/theheathenhomesteader

Candied Pumpkin Spice Nut and Seed Medley Recipe 

Every year one of my aunts sends around treats of candied nuts. I have been dreaming about tasty candied nuts and seeds so I decided to make some because I couldn’t wait. Impatient much? This is a large batch for entertaining, big families, gifting or saving to eat all by ones self. Teehee! The recipe is easily cut in half. They are spicy, sweet and salty all in one. I used almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), walnuts and pecans. You can use any blend you would like or just one but or seed! It’s super easy and tasty!

You will need: 

*2 lbs of raw unsalted nuts or seeds. I used 8 ounces each of almonds (about 1.5 cups), pepitas (about 2 cups), walnuts (about 2.5 cups) and pecans (about 2 cups). It’s easier to weigh it all but if you can I gave approximates for measuring. 

*2 egg whites 

*1 cup white sugar 

*1 cup brown sugar 

*2 tablespoons water 

*1 1/2 tablespoons salt 

*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil.

Measure out nuts and seeds. 

Blend nuts and seeds together. 

Measure out sugar, salt and spices. Blend well. 

Whisk egg whites and water until frothy. 

Add egg mixture to nut and seed blend. Mix with spoon or with hands.

Scoop everything into the bowl with the sugar mixture. Toss together until everything is coated evenly. 

Evenly place ingredients onto baking sheets.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Stirring every ten minutes. 

Cool completely and then enjoy!

Crispy Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Pumpkin seeds are probably my favorite thing about taking apart pumpkins. Sure, purée is amazing when you are using sugar pumpkins but making Jack O’ Lanterns and other decor you won’t be eating makes the work somewhat of an unrewarding job when cleaning them…except for the seeds! It is a long and time consuming process but so worth it! I might have cried when I burnt a batch before. Seriously. 

The other day, I cleaned out the “guts” from a sugar pumpkin destined to be purée. To start you simply need a pumpkin and to use whatever method you decide on to remove the guts. It depends on what you’re doing with your pumpkin. So we will start with the guts. 

You will need:

*Pumpkin guts! These are the stringy fibers and seeds. 

*Salt

*Oil

*Seasonings of choice. You can make salted, cinnamon sugar, cayenne, pumpkin spice, etc. Here I am making salted because they are my favorite. 

*Tools such as bowls, strainer, spoon, etc. Read the entire recipe before beginning to make sure you have everything you need! 

Pull seeds out of pumpkin fibers. Toss or compost the fibers. This is time consuming, slippery and messy so take your time. They don’t need to be perfectly clean. 

Soak seeds overnight in salted water. This is a method my mom taught me. They somehow create crispier and more flavorful seeds as well as helping prevent sticking a bit. 

Strain seeds. Rinse if you are making sweet seeds to remove salt. Most of the extra fibers should slip off of the seeds and stick to the strainer as well. Thanks salt water! 

Place in a flat container to dry. This can take several hours depending on the amount of seeds in the container, temperature in the home, etc. You can see some extra fibers here. Remove them or leave them. They don’t hurt the seeds. I wouldn’t use paper towels or a rag to help. The seeds will stick to it! Which is a PAIN to deal with later. I prefer waiting over using the oven to dry the seeds. 

Once dry cover with just enough oil to wet the seeds. I prefer to use my clean hands to massage the oil in and around. 

Add seasonings and toss the seeds. 

Roast in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or so. Stirring halfway through. Be sure to get the seeds on the sides especially. 

Let the seeds cool completely after removing from the oven then enjoy! 

Homemade Edible Play Dough 

Yesterday was a busy day. Cooking, cleaning, baking and mommying. A friend suggested I make my toddler play dough to help keep her happy and busy when I can’t be hands on with her. I have been wanting to make play dough for some for quite a while but never got around to it. I have made it before when I was younger for my baby sister and kids I babysat over the years but it was time my little one had some too. This recipe is safe for toddlers in case they decide to eat some. It makes quite a bit too! I ended up giving half to the neighbors!

You will need: 

*2 1/2 cups flour (unsure how gluten free flours would work if you are curious)

*2 cups hot water 

*1/2 cup salt (I used Kosher)

*3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used melted coconut) 

*1 tablespoon cream of tartar

For coloring and/or flavoring you can use 2 packages of a powdered drink such as Kool-Aid or use food coloring and either food grade “kids safe” edible essential oils or flavoring extract. For the second option I would experiment with what works for you to determine how much you need. 

Start heating up water. I used a pot on the stove top but you can use a tea kettle or a microwave. 

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar. 

Add flavoring and oil. Mix well! 

Add food coloring to the water if you are using it. 

Pour water into flour mixture. 

Mix! Mix! Mix! 

If you need to alter the color a bit feel free to here.

You will need to mix for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth, flexible and cool. Alternatively, you can knead it once it cools for the same amount of time. Kneading produces a better dough I have found. 

Store in an air tight container when not in use. Have fun!